Following the P2000 slide, Id like to say a little about future vehicle packaging
and styling - the really fun part of automobile design.
In the city, roughly 80% of the total energy consumed by cars comes from the effects of
mass. So vehicle mass reduction is a key strategy for reducing energy intensity in
city driving. For me, that translates into smaller family sedans, and even new
personal transportation products that could be much smaller than todays typical
In the last two or three years, concept cars and prototypes of urban and commuter
vehicles have been showing up on the show circuit, mostly with an eye toward the European
markets. This is an option that hasn't been well explored, mainly because of the
perceived lack of a market - especially in North America. But if we unhook from the
idea of a cheap econobox minicar, and instead think in terms of entirely new
transportation products that give consumers the intangible benefits they want, we might
discover new opportunities and profits with much smaller vehicles. I would not be
surprised to see marketing successes along these lines before year 2010, perhaps with
products that are radically different from what we traditionally think of as an
But regardless of whether new vehicle types are in the cards, I think we can expect
exterior dimensions to continue to shrink as new powertrain and packaging refinements
unfold. My guess is that the one-box design will ultimately win out as the outside
of the car shrinks around the passenger zone and the traditional hood and trunk regions
largely disappear. I say that because a vehicle with so much of its space devoted to
mechanical hardware and luggage is just not very space-efficient. And over the long
term, what works best tends to win....
and even become beautiful.